Is your mission statement as dull as your organization? Is it doing what it’s meant to do?
I recently had the privilege of working with an amazing organization who’s goal is to give our unemployed a new career and help clean up our declining neighborhoods by working within the community to educate, train and find work for unemployed individuals in the construction trades. Constructive Community Builders is a licensed school of construction, training individuals in the pre apprenticeship construction trades. As part of their training, the students go out into their communities and help rebuild the blighted neighborhoods. They are working with Michigan Works in the eight cities of promise and their Leave No Worker Behind Program to find unemployed individuals who want to learn the construction trades, but they can only provide tuition for 3-5 students per year. The wait list is growing each day with people who want to sign up but can’t afford the $5,000 tuition so they have to wait until funds come in. This organization is operating on a zero budget with a massive amount of debt and little hope for getting back on track due to the poor management by the previous director. They’ve tapped their funding sources dry but they still believe they can make a difference and are pushing forward. Their drive and determination is amazing!
For 5 years this organization has given it’s all to the community. Recently, I’ve been in their offices when people off the streets have come in desperate for work, food or basic necessities and I’ve watched as the new non-paid volunteer Executive Director, who is in a wheel chair give his last dollar out of his own pocket to help someone out apologizing in the process for not being able to do more.
I’ve taken a look at their organization to see how I could help them raise funds as well as raise their public image and found that most people were confused by what it is they are doing. I took a look at their mission statement and found that it was a total mess. Very unclear and it rambled on and on about all the different things they wanted to do to help their community. They want to help in so many different ways that they put it all in their mission statement. A big mistake. You can have the best program out there but if a funder takes a look at your organization to see how you can fit into their funding options and cannot decide what it is you are all about then chances are they will go on to the next organization on their list. Many foundations look at your organizations mission statement as part of the grant requirements. I’ve seen it where that is all they look at to start with. If you don’t mesh with their types of funding they move on to the next.
Mission statements should be short, clear and concise. It should be a one to two sentence explanation of what your organization is all about. I’ve seen it time and time again; organizations thinking their mission statement has to be the all encompassing banner of the organization when in reality it needs to be the most straight forward part of the organization. Under a goals section you explain in more details the HOW of how your organization is going to fulfill the mission statement. This section can be as long as a page but should not read like a business plan. :) You’re organization is not dull nor should your mission statement. Make it stand out among the crowd.
Mission statements should be revised according to the growth of an organization to make sure the over all goals are the same. Changing a mission statement to fit a growing organization is crucial to keeping your organization flowing in the right direction.
I suggest to all my clients to take a look at the mission statements of Google, Microsoft, and any other major company out there to see how they do it. This is Googles mission statement. “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” It always amazes them to see how much shorter and easy to understand they are.
So for this weeks tip I want to press upon each organization to take a look at their mission statement. Sit down with our boards and key management team and go over your organizations goals for the next 3 months. Revise your mission statement to reflect changes in your organization but keep true to your organization at the same time. If you feel you don’t need to change the statement then maybe changing the goals is in order.
I’m here to give any help and advice when and if your organization needs it. You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org